Big or small, every city has them. Thieves, muggers and snatchers are like magicians. The best of them can make your valuables disappear with a sleight of hand. When visiting a country for the first time, you become more susceptible to burglars than usual. Below are some obvious traits of a foreigner about to receive an unpleasant surprise.
1. The Fashionista
Flashy jewelry and eccentric clothing attract muggers like flies to turd. Your fashion sense determines whether or not you get mugged. When in Rome, do what the Romans do including how they dress. This means no combination whatsoever of funny hats, walking shorts and rubber shoes, massive backpacks, neon shirts, ridiculously-huge sunglasses and SLR cameras. Otherwise, you might as well wear a sign that says, “I am a tourist!”
2. The Wanderer
When you are in a foreign country, endless displays, structures and people will catch your attention; however, it isn’t safe to gawk at these attractions for an extended period of time because you leave yourself vulnerable and defenseless to suspicious pedestrians. Natives have already grown accustomed to both enchanting and unusual sightings in their own countries. Don’t act surprised or take pictures if you see some hobo urinating in the middle of the sidewalk. Surely you’ve seen something to that extent in your country as well.
If you’re more than capable of defending yourself, you won’t be an easy target for crooks. Instead of wandering aimlessly and looking lost, walk with confidence and a sense of purpose so thieves will back off. If you really can’t find your way around, don’t be too obvious.
3. The Lone Wolf
Regardless of how unsociable and reserved you are, make it a point to bring someone if you need to go out at night. Never travel in public open spaces alone, especially if you are new to the area.
Avoid subways and buses after a long night of drinking and partying. Instead, take a cab and stick to the main road. Walk in well-lit, crowded areas in groups of two or more people. The worst thing that can happen is if you and your friends get outnumbered and all of you get mugged.
4. The Unassuming
Your main goal is to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Don’t hesitate to channel your inner Ace Ventura or Stanley Ipkiss once you sense that danger is fast approaching. After you gain the attention of bad guys even if you’ve desperately tried to avoid it, singing a song at the top of your lungs will make them think twice about attacking you.
While in-character, you might as well wave occasionally as though you’ve seen a friend or acquaintance. This would make you look like you know the local storeowner or saw a relative across the street. If the crowd is thin, mumble to yourself just loud enough for your possible assailant to hear. Muggers avoid crazy people like the plague because they are too unpredictable.
5. The Weakling
Carrying a deadly weapon is illegal in most places, but when it is permitted, you might as well have one. A pepper spray, taser gun, pocket knife or even a 38 caliber may be your last resort when the situation gets out of hand. Muggers target wimps and cowards but a weapon can give you the confidence necessary to look tough and threatening. If guns and knives go against your principles, you may bring a glass bottle or a piece of wood instead. Just make sure you bring it discreetly.
Hopefully, your weapon is not just for show and you actually know how to use it. The last thing you want is for an unarmed robber to use your ammunition against you. Perhaps the best weapon to have is martial arts training. Screaming for help and running as fast as possible are also alternative ways of wiggling out of a bad situation. There are numerous ways to defend yourself so make sure you remember to use at least one of them.
6. The Big Spender
If you need to bring cash, make sure to put most of it in a secret place. Muggers don’t have enough time to waste so they usually just grab your wallet and run away. As a result, most of the money you saved in your shoe or underwear is safe, although the cashier might wonder why your bills smell funny.
Additionally, be careful when buying expensive items from sidewalk vendors. This may just be another attempt to get you to expose your wallet. Also avoid people who claim to have cheap bling and Louis Vuittons for sale in a nearby alley. Once you reach their stash, they will just point a gun at you and ask for all your belongings. If you need to take your wallet out in public, be sure to have some friends watching your back.
All muggers have the same mentality no matter where they come from. If you still end up in the unfortunate situation of being mugged, it is generally in your best interest not to put up any resistance and just give them what they want. Muggers are only after the money and rarely hurt those who cooperate. A few dollars and some credit cards aren’t worth losing your life over. When you return to your country, it will be just another story to tell your grandkids.